Hill running is a type of repetition training. It involves intense, short workouts separated by relatively long recovery periods. Training on hills improves speed, muscle strength (power), cadence, foot strike, increases stride length, develops your cardiovascular system, and enhances your running economy. In short, hill running will make you a stronger, faster and a healthier runner (if done correctly of course).
Tips on Running Hills:
1. Shorten your stride so that your feet are close to the ground in order to minimize impact forces during the uphill and downhill. Remember, we want to maintain a cadence of 90 spm (steps per minute).
2. Keep your feet pointing straight ahead, lead with your knees to utilize your core and hip flexors and maintain an upright posture (leaning forward from the ankles not your hips).
3. When running uphill, regardless whether it’s during a long run, a race or a workout, your goal is to maintain effort, NOT pace. Trying to maintain the pace you were running on the flat will leave you exhausted later in the workout or race. Efficiency is key for long distance running. The more consistent your pace, heart rate and breathing the more efficient and effective you will be.
4. If your breathing begins to quicken it means that you’re either going uphill too fast, over-striding or creating too much vertical displacement (bounding too far off the ground as you run).
5. Crest the hill. As you start approaching the top of the hill you will need to gradually increase your pace in order to maintain effort over the top of the hill as you start accelerating on the downhill.
6. The key to efficient downhill running is to stay in control. When you start running downhill, shorten your stride and let your turnover increase. When you feel in control, gradually lengthen your stride (avoid breaking).